The text messaging service in Ethiopia has been shut down in a move that is coming as part of a break in internet access in the country for more than two days now. The move is targeted to coincide with nationwide exams.
There have been speculations that the internet blackout is aimed at trying to stop people from cheating, but this has not been confirmed by the authorities.
Ethio Telecom, the country’s monopoly internet provider, told BBC Amharic that it has “no mandate” to comment on this issue.
The state broadcaster, ETV, on Wednesday, reported that four students had been caught cheating after sending text messages to one another.
Ethiopia has in years back blocked the internet for this particular reason. In justifying the measure back in 2017, an official told Reuters: “The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year.
“We are being proactive. We want our students to concentrate and be free of the psychological pressure and distractions that this brings,” Mohammed Seid, of the then Office for Government Communications Affairs added.
Across Africa, internet blackouts are increasingly becoming popular especially for political reasons. Sudan has blocked internet amid a transition flux while Liberia blocked it in the wake of anti-government protests.
Uganda and Congo blocked the access during presidential elections in 2016. Chad continues to suffer an outage that is into its second year while Cameroon’s Anglophone region also continues to suffer same.